A Robodebt Re-Run? Labor bound by Pre-election contracts?
22 July 2022
It seems that the Liberals are ruling beyond the election, by letting long-term private Centrelink contracts that Labor must honour. With the public service effectively dismantled, all work is done by private contractors, and doing tasks defined in a highly ideological framework. Even if the contracts were rescinded, with whatever penalty clauses the Libs and their contractors had agreed on, the Labor party has insufficient public administration staff capable to do the job of paying people in the short term. So they default to the Liberal contract.
This is about managing Centrelink’s Jobseeker program and ‘debt recovery program’. We have seen how the Liberals used Tax Office records in the Robodebt scandal, with totally unsubstantiated financial demands, then enforced by garnisheeing payments leading to suicides. Behind this sort of activity is a philosophy that those on welfare have only themselves to blame and need to be forced back to work, even when it is obvious that there are fewer jobs than job seekers, so that all that will change is who gets what jobs there are. Labor has to change the philosophy to a more realistic one, then have a serious plan to help those who cannot get jobs. Everyone knows that technology is replacing people in many areas, and jobs are moved offshore in manufacturing or services such as call centres because it is cheaper.
The fact that Labor was dependent on contractors chosen by the Liberals is another feature of privatisation that must be reversed. The Public Service must be rebuilt, and staff given guarantees of long-term employment- like they used to have. They must do their job helping people without the cost constraints of false bonuses that reward them for doing the easy tasks and leaving the hard ones.